Astoria Church Becomes Place of Hope For Cancer Survivors

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY
By Katie Vasquez

St. Joseph’s church in Astoria has become a place of hope for those battling cancer.  The church has added three shrines, featuring Blessed Carlo Acutis, Saint Peregrine and Saint Sharbel.

All three of whom are connected to the deadly disease, according to Deacon Michael Chirichella of the healing ministry at St. Joseph’s church. 

“Blessed Carlo died from cancer at the age of 15, leukemia, Saint Peregrine is a cancer survivor, the patron saint of cancer and Saint Sharbel is the patron saint of any ailments body and soul,” said Chirichella. 

Deacon Michael has a personal tie to Saint Sharbel.  He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in January of last year, and credits oil from the saint, plus the dedicated work of his doctors for finally getting rid of the disease. 

He now works in the healing ministry at St. Joseph’s church.

When parishioner Deborah Lee heard his story, she was reminded of her own friends who have passed away from cancer. She was inspired to donate a statue of Saint Sharbel to the parish.  

“It gave me hope in the power of prayer and Saint Sharbel for healing. The women that I donated the statue to in honor of were very close to me, very important in my life and they died from cancer,” said parishioner Deborah Lee. 

Long-time parishioner Edward Esposti is grateful for the shrines. 

His wife, Vivian, had pancreatic cancer and fought it bravely for almost 2 years before finally returning to the lord last November. Her dying wish to her husband, to have a statue of Saint Peregrine dedicated in her memory.  

“She prayed consistently to Saint Peregrine because he was the cancer saint and unfortunately to no avail, she still passed away, but I have to admit the lord needed an angel, another angel,” said parishioner Edward Esposti.

Now as people venerate before the shrine, Edward and Deborah are both glad that those who are fighting the tough battle of cancer have a place of refuge inside their parish.